Just because you’re not seeing amazing new consumer tech products that doesn’t mean the tech revolution is stuck. In fact, it’s just pausing to conquer some major new territory. And, if it succeeds, the results could be as big, or bigger, than the first consumer PCs were in the 1970s, or even the web in the 1990s.
All of the major tech players, companies from other industries, and startups with names we don’t know yet are working away on some or all of the new major building blocks of the future which are, in no particular order - artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and drones, smart homes, self-driving cars, and digital health and wearables.
All of these things have dependencies in common. They include greater and more distributed computing power (cloud computing), new sensors, better networks, smarter voice and visual recognition, and software that’s simultaneously more intelligent and more secure.
THE ALL-ENCOMPASSING TECHNOLOGYThe Science fiction world of Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (Futuristic Science Writer - 16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) is coming to reality. We expect that one end result of all this work will be that the technology - the computer inside all these things, will fade into the background. In some cases, it may entirely disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in human physiology, a shift in temperature, or a motion change. All these are predictions the aforementioned author predicted decades ago.
Your whole home, office and car will be packed with these waiting computers and sensors. But they won’t be in your way, or perhaps even distinguishable as tech devices. This is ambient computing - the transformation of the environment all around us with intelligence and capabilities that don’t seem to be there at all.
Like most things involving nascent technology, there is always a downside. If the FBI can threaten a huge company like Apple over an iPhone password, what are your odds of protecting your future tech-dependent environment from government intrusion or a rogue hacker in Wuhan or Moscow? If British hospitals have to shut down due to a ransomware attack, can online crooks lock you out of your house, office, or car?
Rest assured that Social media will also want a foothold in this ambient technology. How will this pan out is an opened question. But this much we know about a business model that implicitly motivate efforts to increase time spent per-user, in order to make more revenue is not going to change any time soon. We know as a matter of fact that their influence in propagating fake news has consequences. We have become so polarised and divisive in every sphere you care to look at. Facts are in competition with lies. With ambient technology, it will be so granular as to whether your coffee is "Arabica or Robusta because some influencer in "Timbuktu" has given it the thumbs up. Or whether you go outside or stay in because some idiot says the atmosphere outside your home is contaminated with a virus - COVID 19.
These are issues that will need to be resolved by both the government and the big tech oligopoly. In other words, we need much stronger standards for security and privacy than they exist now. Real binding laws as they exist in other spheres of our lives that safeguard us from private, corporate and governments bodies for society in general to be free, democratic and for the common good in us all to prevail.